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Sir Franklyn Wilson deserves consideration for governor general position    

Dear Editor,

With it being rumored that Dame Marguerite Pindling will be stepping down as governor general this year, two names have been bandied about in certain media outlets as possible replacements to reside at Government House on Mount Fitzwilliam. With the appointment of former Free National Movement (FNM) MP CA Smith as deputy to the governor general in July 2018, and with former FNM MP Janet Bostwick being knighted dame commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, these two prominent FNMs are thought to be the two clear-cut frontrunners.

As the first female MP, first female attorney general, and first female to serve as acting prime minister, Dame Janet Bostwick is a trailblazer and trendsetter that women throughout The Bahamas and the region can look up to as a role model of impeccable character. Dame Janet reminds me of the legendary Dame Mary Eugenia Charles, the first and only female prime minister of the Caribbean country of Dominica. Dame Janet fought along with Sir Cecil Wallace-Whitfield and other FNM pioneers when it was extremely unpopular to oppose the then government.

With her impressive resume, Dame Janet rightly deserves consideration of being appointed the third female governor general. Prime Minister Dr. Hubert Minnis may feel inclined to appoint Smith, due to the latter’s unflinching support. Smith has indeed made his mark on the political landscape. But in my personal opinion, another name that comes to mind equally deserving as Dame Janet Bostwick for consideration for the governor general position is prominent businessman Sir Franklyn Wilson.

Some FNMs might balk at the idea of the Minnis administration appointing Sir Franklyn as governor general, seeing that he is a member of the Progressive Liberal Party (PLP). However, it is my understanding that the governor general position is apolitical. Consequently, Sir Franklyn’s political persuasion is irrelevant. Objective Bahamians must be wary of political sectarianism.

I am not taking anything away from Smith, but it is the viewpoint of this writer that Sir Franklyn’s contributions towards nation building, particularly his massive role in transitioning The College of The Bahamas (COB) to university status, is simply unparalleled.

The University of The Bahamas (UB) Northern Campus owes its existence to Sir Franklyn. It was the accomplished businessman and former PLP MP who established an endowment fund. He also donated $1 million of his personal funds to the college in order to establish a capital development fund, which has benefited both PLPs and FNMs at the tertiary institution that is well on its way to becoming an academic force in the region, thanks to its main benefactor, Sir Franklyn.

Sir Franklyn has played a pivotal role in wooing many corporate sponsors to the university over the years. It is my understanding that Sir Franklyn, who once served as chairman of the Council of COB, donated $1 million towards the construction of the Franklyn R. Wilson Center at UB. Royal Bank of Canada donated the other million for the center, undoubtedly due to Sir Franklyn’s massive influence. If nothing else, Sir Franklyn’s generosity towards UB is proof that he’s perhaps the greatest black Bahamian philanthropist living today.

Education is pivotal in the development of any nation. Sir Franklyn obviously understands this. That’s why he has put his money where his mouth is.

The founding chairman of Junior Achievement Bahamas, The Bahamas Chapter of The Young President’s Organization and World President’s Organization, Sir Franklyn currently serves as chairman of Sunshine Holdings, FOCOL, Arawak Homes, Sunshine Insurance, Royal Star Assurance, Jack’s Bay Developers and Sunshine Finance. Arawak Homes has made it possible for thousands of-low income Bahamian families to afford to buy homes at a time when a plot of land in Bain and Grants Town and other inner-city communities is anywhere in the neighborhood of $70,000 – clearly out of the reach of the small man.

I stand to be corrected, but it was Sir Franklyn who gave the Sir Lynden Pindling Estates subdivision its name, in honor of the father of the nation. It was one of the stated goals of the PLP under Sir Lynden to create a robust black middle class. Under the United Bahamian Party, the economic disparity between the Bay Street oligarchs and most black Bahamians was massive, with virtually no middle class. The phenomenal success of Sir Franklyn and the Sunshine Boys is a testament to the vision of Sir Lynden in empowering black Bahamians to grab hold of their own economy.

Like former Prime Ministers Hubert Ingraham and Perry Christie, I consider Sir Franklyn to be a political son of Pindling. Like both Christie and Ingraham, Sir Franklyn came out of the tumultuous 1980s with his reputation and character intact, at a time when so many of his political colleagues succumbed to the winds of compromise, which subsequently led to deleterious consequences to not only the PLP, but the entire nation as well.

In my estimation, Sir Franklyn was one of the few bright spots of the PLP in the Pindling era. I consider him to be a role model to thousands. I am hard pressed to name just one wealthy FNM who has given as much towards education than Sir Franklyn.

The success of the Sunshine Boys has been altruistic, in that thousands of Bahamians have been the beneficiaries of Sir Franklyn’s economic empowerment via employment opportunities and charitable donations. In this regard, Sir Franklyn rightly deserves consideration for the post of governor general. I can think of no one more deserving than this outstanding Bahamian who has been the benefactor of tens of thousands of Bahamians, be they PLP or FNM.

– Kevin Evans

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